Editor's note: The following is the eighth in a series of posts on
the historical record that can be tracked through U.S. coins. The
subject is the cover story of our July monthly issue.
To read other stories in the series, click here.
A few short years after Gettysburg’s 75th anniversary, the United
States found itself at war again.
American involvement in World War II began in earnest once the
Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy, Dec. 7, 1941. The
war would be waged in multiple theaters and on multiple fronts.
In 1944, Hitler’s troops were fighting Russian forces on the Eastern
Front, while American, British, Canadian, and French forces were
planning for an invasion of France at Normandy. The invasion opened up
another front in the war and paved the way for the liberation of Europe.
Robert F. Sargent captured the challenges faced by Allied soldiers
in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, famously in the photograph
titled “Into the Jaws of Death.”
In the image, assault craft land among one of the first waves of
troops at Omaha Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the
unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
In 1993, the U.S. Mint honored World War II with three commemorative
coins, including a silver dollar emblematic of D-Day, when some
176,000 Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of northern France.
On the obverse of the coin, a single soldier rushing toward the
beach from the surf dominates the obverse, with other soldiers in the
background seen in landing craft and on the beach. The reverse carries
a quote from Allied Expeditionary Forces commander Dwight D.
Eisenhower, who would later become president of the United States.
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